Check out my brand new writing challenge (Early Bird Price Now)

Get 10,000 Views on a Single Article – Lesson 2



Video Summary – Images and Intros

Here are some highlights from this free training. Todd Brison and I go pretty deep on these topics, so I haven’t put everything we discussed. My suggestion is to scan the written content below, and also watch the videos for theory, examples, and discussion around why we believe this stuff is so important.


PS – if you haven’t watched Lesson 1 on headlines and subheads, make sure you do that.


Where can you find images to complete your masterpiece?

Here are the big ones:

Whenever you write on Medium, make sure to attribute your images. Forgetting to write down where your image came from is a big mistake that will keep you from getting the views your post deserves.

All of the sites listed above have Creative Commons 0 Licenses, which means they are available for free use.

Also, make sure your images are big enough. Medium specifically became famous for allowing enormous images on its blog posts. In the early days of the web, you could only use small images. Choose a decent resolution for the image (2000px in width is plenty).


How do you know if an image is good?

The average person is scrolling through their feeds very quickly, so I use the same approach for choosing my images. Whether you are using Pexels, Unsplash, or Google Images, scroll as fast as you can. Which ones made you stop?

You can see me go through this process live in the video. My rule of thumb is, if something makes you scroll up or stop scrolling, that may be a good image.

Todd pointed out that he keeps a separate file with all his images with the credits, and then picks out the one which matches the post he’s writing. It’s similar to what I do with headlines.


Branding images

Many people ask if it’s necessary to brand your images. The quick answer to that is: not unless it’s easy for you.

Darius Foroux is an author who uses little doodles as his header images. These aren’t works of art by any means, but they help Darius stand out from the crowd with just a little extra effort. Austin Kleon is an author who does something similar.

Another option is to do what author Kris Gage does. Kris writes on Medium like we do, but she only uses certain types of photos – street graffiti and urban life. She brands her posts without drawing. Nicholas Cole is an author who does this as well, except he uses photos of himself in every post.

These aren’t necessarily rules for you, just options. Todd and I have both done very well on Medium using different images each time.


Writing great opening lines

Your first line is what answers the question all readers ask: “Am I going to continue reading this?” The first sentence is just another headline. If you’re writing on Medium, the editors aren’t reviewing your first line nearly as much as the headlines and subheads.

Spend 15 minutes on the first sentence. Don’t assume the first thing you write is the best option, but also don’t shrink away from your own brilliance. There’s no reason you can’t write an amazing first line.


Writing the rest of your introduction

Be direct and concise in your introductions. Don’t write long sentences with long stories. This is a surefire way to make readers click somewhere else as soon as they can.

Use a word count limit in your intro to stop you from rambling on forever. If I have more than 6 paragraphs in my introduction, I stop myself. Todd always tries to keep his introductions around 200 words or less.

Offer credibility in the first few paragraphs. In addition to deciding whether or not we should read your post, we also need to decide whether or not you have the authority to be talking about this topic. You don’t have to be a best-selling author to build credibility. All you have to do is tell us why you know what you know. If you’re getting your information from Malcolm Gladwell or Warren Buffet, tell us. If you earned a Ph.D in the topic, tell us about it.


One great hack for interesting introductions…

Drop people straight in the story with your intro. Here are three great examples of that from myself, Todd, and our friend and fellow viral writer Michael Thompson.

  • Tim’s intro: “My life fell into a million tiny pieces.”
  • Todd’s intro: “Back in 2016, a British entrepreneur asked me one question about Donald Trump.”
  • Michael’s intro: “The phone rang. This was it. The call I had been waiting for.”

There is no need to write in chronological order. Instead, pick the most interesting piece of your story and start in the middle. Remember, the only goal of an introduction is to help people move to the meat of your post. You don’t have to tell your whole life story in order to do that.

-Tim Denning